Badpuppy Gay Today

Wednesday, 04 March 1998

NATIONAL GAY & LESBIAN TASK FORCE MAPS STRATEGIES

State & Local Levels to be Targeted Says Kerry Lobel, Executive Director
Reflects on Debates that Postponed the Millennium March on Washington

Compiled by Badpuppy's GayToday
Based on NGLTF Reports

 

Washington, D.C.-- In Eye on Equality, a monthly commentary on national or state-level political events and which provides a behind-the-scenes look at social movements and trends, Kerry Lobel, Executive Director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force says NGLTF has noted that the nation's landscape is changing and that pointedly focused state strategies are needed.

Ms. Lobel also addressed recent debates in a number of gay and lesbian organizations that has caused the postponement of the previously announced Millenium March on Washington.

"There has been much debate in the past few weeks about the possibility of a Millennium March on Washington for Equal Rights in the year 2000," she writes. " I would like to share my thoughts with you on an exciting proposal which will more directly effect the lives of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered people at the state and local level."

Ms. Lobel recalls that "marches in 1979, 1987 and 1993, focused our countryıs attention, for good reason, on building visibility and power in Washington. But the political landscape has changed dramatically, and with that, our focus must also change.

"Over the past several years we have seen the center of gravity shift from action at the federal level to movement at the local and state level. Letıs use the dawn of a new millennium as the time to make our activism count at the local and state level.

"We find ourselves at a time where our communities have made enormous cultural gains. Despite these gains, most gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered Americans live in states that allow discrimination based on sexual orientation, that ban same-gender consensual sex, and that do not consider violence directed at the GLBT community as a hate crime.

"Many states ban same-gender marriage, even though it is not legal in any state. More and more queer youth find their school groups and clubs the target of right-wing legislators that understand the power that a growing number of gay-straight alliances holds to change communities.

"Last year, a record number of bills affecting the GLBT community were introduced in state legislatures. Many bad bills were defeated and a record number of good bills were passed. Two states moved bills forward that banned discrimination based on sexual orientation. Last month, voters in one of those states, Maine, voted to repeal their civil rights bill.

"In state after state, NGLTF worked with local and state activists to move their agendas forward on issues ranging from hate crimes to sodomy to family issues to civil rights issues. In 1996, we helped launch the Federation of Statewide Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Political Organizations. Today its executive committee works to ensure that no state has to fight any battle alone.

"Our movement is growing stronger and more people are involved in their communities than ever before. With this growth, has come many challenges. Today we find ourselves at the brink of making important decisions that will forever affect our futures. At NGLTF, we believe that our communities must be visible in every state capital in America.

"NGLTFıs proposal for 50-state marches and actions to be held in 1999 has been widely distributed. It was first discussed at a gathering of the Federation of Statewide Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Political Organizations attended by representatives of 32 states.

"The proposal was then distributed in September at a roundtable meeting attended by over 30 executive directors of national GLBT political organizations and associations. It was also discussed at numerous workshops, gatherings and meetings at NGLTF's annual Creating Change conference held in November in San Diego. It will be discussed again by national and state leaders in March, 1998 at our National Policy Roundtable.

"The process of discussing the 50 state actions/marches has been lengthy and not always perfect. But it has reflected the belief that no one organization can control an entire movementıs agenda. The road to our freedom is a long one and the process is as important as the result. A national movement is fueled by the collective energy and spirit found in towns and cities across America. It is there that our futures lie."

The NGLTF's director says that she is interested in the views of others. She invites commentaries which may be sent to NGLTF's National Headquarters, 2320 17th Street NW, Washington, DC 20009 or through e-mail at klobel@ngltf.org.

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